On the Receiving End of a Crisis Debriefing

Scary Moment
I just returned from some time in Turkey. On the first day there, I was with some of my colleagues enjoying the rich history of the land as our heads cleared from jet lag. Suddenly there was a forceful explosion very close by. Out of my mouth came the words, “That was a bomb.” And it was. You may have read of the suicide bombing in Istanbul that killed 10 tourists and injured many others. We were a mere several hundred yards away and watched as events unfolded before us. Fortunately, we could not see the actual bombing sight as our view was inhibited by a wall and several mature trees. It was some time before we new what actually happened. The fear in passerby’s eyes was striking. There was the concern of more bombings. Was this a single event or was there to be a string of orchestrated strikes? As you can imagine, it had a strong impact on us.

Broadcasting trucks line up at scene of bombing in Istanbul.

We talked amongst ourselves as the day passed. As my colleagues were new to this part of the world I was concerned about impact. Everyone seemed to be processing well. The next morning we talked about it again as we flew to another city. I was not very concerned as everyone seemed to be doing well.

I am grateful that we connected with a number of other experienced and trained workers in that next city. One offered to walk us through a structured critical incident debriefing as a group. Over a couple of hours we were able to share our story and the impact of the event. And once again I was privileged to watch the process of a debriefing do its work.

With another person who had not been there asking pointed questions, more layers began to come forth. We discovered that what was causing us distress was the impact the incident had on loved ones back home. We were not there to tend to our families and assure them of our well being. That had begun to create some deep tension within my companions. Talking it through dissipated much of that tension.

Lesson Learned. Again.
I learned that none of us are above the need for personal care. Yes, I am trained as a personal debriefer and as a crisis debriefer. Just because I understand the process and how it works does not mean I do not need to receive such care myself. I do need to be cared for. We care givers cannot deceive ourselves that we do not need the same care as others.

I also witnessed the process of a well led debriefing do its work. I have learned as a debriefer to “trust the process.” Indeed. I did not sense anything was brewing below my friends surfaces. Yet the actual debriefing brought much more to our awareness. Lesson learned – again!

How About You?
I received a strong response when I wrote on the need for debriefing a couple of months ago (you can read that here). So I ask again, what care do you need? Ours was an actual event. Many of us have what is an accumulative dynamic of stress and even trauma. What care do you need? Do you have mentors? Coaches? A spiritual director? Who can you go to for a personal debriefing? Who shepherds you?

Who cares for you, the care giver?


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2 Responses to On the Receiving End of a Crisis Debriefing

  1. Collins Asir says:

    How true it is ! Just knowing the process or being a professional care giver will not bring healing unless we receive it or go through the process and experience it.
    A very good lesson
    I am blessed by the article. Thanks.


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